Frederiksborg Castle-Hillerød, Denmark: The Versailles of Scandinavia

Frederiksborg CastleThis grand stunner is the largest Renaissance Castle in Scandinavia and floors you faster than you can say “gilded ceilings”. There’s no better way to describe the “Versailles of Scandinavia”!

Frederikisborg Palace (Danish: Frederiksborg Slot) is located about 40 minutes outside of Denmark in Hillerød. The original structure dates back to 1560 when it was used by its namesake, Frederick II, but what you see now was constructed in the early 17th century for Frederick’s son, King Christian IV. The noble throne of Denmark sat here until natural disasters and invading Swedes sparked its 18th century relocation to Fredensborg. Sadly in 1859 a great fire tore through the old castle while Frederik VII was in residency; a newly installed fireplace destroyed the majority of the interior and left the national monument in ruins.

Door Detail
Nationwide concern and donations were instrumental in restoring the castle, and it benefited greatly from the involvement of J.C Jacobsen of the Carlsberg Breweries. He proposed that a Danish national history museum be created with the palace as its home; a decree that was passed in 1878 by Christian IX. Today the palace celebrates over 500 years of Danish history.

The Chapel

Luckily, the decadent and richly ornate Coronation Chapel suffered little damage and still holds its original interior. Monarchs were crowned in the chapel until 1840, and today it is where Danish royalty is anointed (since the monarchy is no longer). You can hear the 17th century organ on special days, or attend regular mass in old school grandeur. Other rooms and decor in the castle also survived, and the rest was restored to its original appearance; outfitted with fine paintings and tapestries galore. Don’t miss the portrait of Christian V posing as a roman emperor, or an elevator built into the floor that allowed the king to literally RISE INTO A ROOM. Talk about making an entrance!

The King's Elevator

The palace sits on 3 islands in the middle of Palace Lake (Slotsøen), and has a large Baroque garden in the south.
I really liked these friezes of stucco deer with real antlers in the Knights Hall even thought it may have been a bit creepy when eating (the room was used as a dining hall). I “waltzed” in the Great Hall, marveled at the incredible ceiling detail, and became dizzy from spinning in circles while looking up; someone put a lot of detail into making that. However, despite the splendor and eye candy, my favorite moment  remains the walk up to the castle. The glory and breadth of the castle is in full view, and you really “get” why nobility relied on extravagant structures to show their wealth and power. I’d be shell shocked way before getting to the front door if I had an appointment with the king.

Ceiling Detail

Ceiling Detail

I strongly suggest you take the time to soak up every last detail and go down each hall and corridor. The collection is unbelievable and every inch of the interior is spectacular. Give yourself ample time to see the gardens…preferably on a spring day.

So, what do you think? Is Frederiksborg your kind of weekend getaway? Maybe you prefer your castles to be a bit more….understated? 😉

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